Health & Wellness

Cannabis Oil Vs. CBD Oil: Here’s What We Know

By Josh Hall

Merely uttering the word “cannabis” has been enough to send chills up the spine of certain lawmakers for decades. For the uninformed, cannabis has always been best associated with recreational marijuana use, and the crusade against it has long been a rallying cry as part of our country’s “war on drugs.” But the recent rise in popularity of cannabidiol (CBD) has shed new light on benefits users can obtain legally by using this cannabis compound.

The hitch in CBD’s newfound fame is that with it has come heaps of misinformation and confusion among those who want to dabble with use but are fearful of making the wrong move. One of the most common mix-ups is assuming CBD oil and cannabis oil are one and the same. They’re not, and we’re going to tell you how and why.

What is cannabis oil?

Written documentation of humans using cannabis dates back to the 6th Century B.C., though some believe it to have started even earlier. Needless to say, the plant is not a newcomer to the game—but it is a somewhat fascinating one. Cannabis produces more than 100 different byproducts known as cannabinoids, some of which you won’t find in other plants. Among the most popular are CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, and the compound responsible for the euphoric high associated with marijuana.

The term cannabis oil is what’s used to describe an extract that includes all active ingredients from the plant (we’ll talk in a minute about how that differs from CBD oil), and that includes the mind-altering THC. In fact, most cannabis oils you find are at least 50% THC, with some even eclipsing 75%.

Benefits of cannabis oil

If you live in a state where THC is legal, there are plenty of ways cannabis oil can help you. For one, it’s a strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic, meaning it provides relief from pain. Just how effective can THC be at treating pain? One research study that analyzed the effect of medical cannabis on fibromyalgia—which causes debilitating and chronic musculoskeletal pain—found it worked so well that half of its participants could stop taking their other medications. Of the 26 patients in the study, all of them reported a dramatic improvement in every area after treatment. Those results were largely due to the presence of THC.

How to use cannabis oil

Aside from sharing a similar name and originating from the same plant, cannabis oil and CBD oil are similarly versatile when it comes to dosing. One of the most efficient ways to use cannabis oil is sublingually. Not to be confused with swallowing, this method involves using a dropper to leave the oil under the tongue for absorption directly into the bloodstream.

Whether it’s THC or CBD, our stomach acids can strip away some of the compound’s strength before it reaches where it needs to go. Industry experts will often refer to this as the “first-pass effect,” and it’s a significant win for sublingual administration over oral consumption. That said, some people do prefer the ease of swallowing a pill or even an edible—and there are plenty of options in that realm with cannabis oil. Gels, creams, and vapes are also ways you might find that work best for you when it comes to using cannabis oil.

How is cannabis oil different from CBD oil?

We’ve talked a lot about how cannabis oil and CBD oil are similar, so let’s get to the differences. The most prominent contrast between the two is the high percentage of THC in cannabis oil, compared to the trace amounts found in CBD oil. And that occurrence has ramifications that loom much larger than just how the oils impact your body. In most of the country, THC is an illegal substance—which, depending on the amount you have, can land you jail time and a hefty fine.

On the contrary, as long as CBD has less than 0.3% THC, it’s generally considered safe and legal to purchase in the United States. CBD is also non-intoxicating, so while you can take advantage of some of the same benefits THC offers, you don’t have to be afraid of getting high. The THC in cannabis oil has a strong tendency to bind with receptors in your brain called CB1 receptors, while CBD bypasses that area in favor of other receptors throughout your body. There are also research-backed theories that suggest CBD actually blocks the ability of THC to bind with the CB1 receptor.

What to look out for with cannabis oil

There are a handful of states in the U.S. where you can legally use recreational marijuana, so if you intend to use cannabis oil, it’s in your best interest to see if THC is legal in your state. If it is, you should know that there are some side effects which you could encounter. The euphoric high felt from THC can be dangerous in certain situations, and you should never attempt to operate a vehicle under the influence. Other side effects could include fatigue, reduced memory, and an increase in both heart rate and appetite.

Parting words on cannabis oil

There’s no doubting that cannabis oil is both versatile and potent. Anecdotal and scientific evidence has proven both those to be true—but it shouldn’t be confused with CBD oil for a number of reasons. The presence of THC in cannabis oil makes it not only illegal in certain states but a conduit to getting high. If you live in a state where you can get in trouble for using THC, or you’re simply not comfortable with what it might do to your body, you should probably just stick with CBD oil.

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